Rockies vs. Dodgers MLB Preview

 

Extra-thick chalk on Thursday’s baseball betting card awaits anyone looking to play the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers in their series finale against the sinking Colorado Rockies.

Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

 at Dodger Stadium

 To no one’s surprise, Los Angeles and Colorado are on opposite ends of the NL West standings, just as the MLB futures odds suggested before the season began. The Dodgers and Rockies also head into their series finale with opposite streaks, LA surging with five consecutive wins while Colorado is in the throes of a 5-game skid. The Dodgers extended both of those streaks by taking the first two games and outscoring the Rockies 11-2 in the process.

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Athletics vs. Astros MLB Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers v Oakland Athletics

 

Rivals from the American League West Division collide on Thursday’s MLB betting card, and the Oakland Athletics will be looking for some revenge in Houston against the Astros.

 

Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros

Thursday, April 8, 2021 – 8:10 PM ET at Minute Maid Park

 

Oakland and Houston were co-favorites for the division title according to the preseason baseball futures, but are instead on opposites ends of the standings coming into this early rematch. The Astros packed their brooms for the season-opening series out in Oakland last weekend, and enter their home opener on top of the AL West. The A’s, meanwhile, just picked up their first dubya of the year to sit in the division basement.

 

A’s Have Dropped Their Last 4 Series Openers

 

Expectations are for about 20,000 fans at the game in Houston, no doubt some of them joining the national craze and hoping to smuggle their own trash cans into the contest. Yawn. The initial mound duel is between Cole Irvin (0-1, 8.31) and Cristian Javier (0-0, 4.91), and US betting sites such as Bet365 are carrying Javier and the Astros as -150 favorites. Most shops are selling the total at 9.5 while juicing the ‘over’ a little extra.

 

Oakland picked up win No. 1 of 2021 yesterday in a matinee at home, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 in 10 innings. The six-game losing streak to begin the season was a true team effort with shoddy pitching and a slumbering offense to blame. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates have a higher ERA than the 7.17 that A’s pitchers bring into this series, and a .528 OPS only bests the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

Irvin was no mystery to Astros hitters last Saturday, the lefthander allowing single tallies in the first and second innings before Houston finally chased him in the fifth. Astros hitters made him work through 46 pitches in the first two innings alone. Sold from Philadelphia to Oakland in January, it looked like a great buy for the A’s when Irvin had a solid spring, making three starts and two relief appearances with a 1.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 18 frames. Last Saturday was his first start against the Astros, and Thursday will be his first time on the Minute Maid mound.

 

‘Over’ Cashes Astros’ Last 5 Vs. Lefty Starters

 

Houston enjoyed a day off following a 6-game swing out west, coming home with a 5-1 record and owning the largest run differential (+27) in the majors through Tuesday. The Astros scored 7.50 runs per game on the trip, cracking an MLB-best 12 homers in the six contests with Kyle Tucker going deep in each of the final three games.

 

The offense hasn’t been the only facet of the game responsible for Houston’s quick start with the pitching staff posting a 2.72 ERA over the first half-dozen games. Javier is hoping to contribute to that side of the equation in his second start, the first being last Friday in Oakland against the A’s. The 24-year-old Dominican was a +115 underdog on the MLB odds board, and breezed through the first three innings retiring 9-straight. Javier ran into trouble in the fourth, however, and was lifted before he could factor in Houston’s 9-5 triumph. The Astros won four of his five home starts last season while Javier pitched to a 2.17 ERA at Minute Maid (29 IP).

 

‘Over’ Joins Astros in Last Weekend’s Sweep in Oakland

 

None of the booing, taunting and trash can props troubled the Astros in Oakland last weekend, and it will be interesting to see how the home fans treat them at the first game played in front of fans at Minute Maid since the fines and suspensions were handed down for the sign-stealing scandal.

 

Oakland won the season series a year ago, 7-3, but dropped the only two games played in Houston. The Astros own an 87-64 advantage in the rivalry dating back to when the two clubs were interleague rivals, and are 44-29 in the contests played in the Bayou City.

 

Houston might be down a key stick on Thursday, and possibly beyond, with Michael Brantley listed as questionable. He was plunked on the wrist last Saturday in Oakland by Irvin, and has been out of the lineup since. Most of the Astros’ dominance in this rivalry has actually taken place out in Oakland, and since things have a way of evening out – especially in baseball – my crystal ball says to run with the A’s for a free MLB pick.

 

MLB Pick: Athletics (+130) at Bet365

Florida State vs Michigan NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

Malik Osborne #10 of the Florida State Seminoles goes up for a shot. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Malik Osborne #10 of the Florida State Seminoles goes up for a shot. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Upsets and underdogs have ruled March Madness heading into the Sweet 16, but the battle between the Florida State Seminoles and Michigan Wolverines is just like it was drawn up when the seeds were first handed out on Selection Sunday.

Florida State Seminoles vs. Michigan Wolverines

at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Of the eight games in the Sweet 16, this is the only one coming off as projected by the seeding with Michigan the No. 1 in the East and Florida State No. 4. In fact, the top half of the East Region has run perfectly according to seeding. The Wolverines appear to have corrected some of their late-season woes when they dropped three of their last five, and have taken care of business against the No. 16 and No. 8 seeds of the East. Likewise, the Seminoles lost three of their final five games before the tourney, and have dispatched the No. 13 and No. 5 seeds to reach the East Region semifinals.

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Cleveland State vs Houston NCAA Basketball Preview

CJ Walker #13 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is fouled by D'Moi Hodge #55 of the Cleveland State Vikings. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

CJ Walker #13 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is fouled by D’Moi Hodge #55 of the Cleveland State Vikings. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

Looking to become just the ninth No. 15 to beat a No. 2, the Cleveland State Vikings tangle with the Houston Cougars in what is expected to be a March Madness contest that is all about defense.

Cleveland State Vikings vs. Houston Cougars

Friday, March 19, 2021 – 7:15 PM EDT at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Ranked No. 17 in the preseason AP, Houston beat those expectations with a 24-3 campaign and somewhat quietly moving all the way up to No. 6 in the two most recent editions of the polls. The Cougars finished percentage points behind Wichita State in the American Athletic Conference regular season standings, then won 3-straight last weekend to earn their first league tourney title since winning the Conference USA event in 2010. Cleveland State tied Wright State for the Horizon League regular season crown, earning the Vikings a bye into the semifinals of the conference tournament where they claimed the title with successive wins.

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Texas Tech vs. Texas NCAA Basketball Preview

Guard Matt Coleman III #2 of the Texas Longhorns passes the ball. John E. Moore III/Getty Images/AFP

Guard Matt Coleman III #2 of the Texas Longhorns passes the ball. John E. Moore III/Getty Images/AFP

 

The first really big dose of March Madness takes place Thursday when a rivalry matchup between ranked teams closes out the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament with the Texas Longhorns taking on the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

 

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns

Thursday, March 11, 2021 – 09:30 PM EST at T-Mobile Center

Texas arrives in Kansas City as the third seed in the conference, climbing two spots to No. 13 in the latest AP poll while sticking at No. 16 according to the coaches. The Longhorns closed strong with three road wins in the busy final week of the season, and presently project as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Texas Tech split its final six games of the regular season, sliding down to Nos. 20/22 in the two conventional rankings. The Red Raiders are showing up as either a 5-seed or 6-seed in various NCAA brackets.

 

Underdogs Cash 7 of Last 10 Matchups

Depending how action across Thursday’s fixture goes, the matchup will be found on either ESPN or ESPN2. FanDuel sent the Red Raiders out as 1½-point chalk for the clash, setting 136½ for the total.

It’s the third meeting between the teams this season, Texas Tech sweeping the regular season series. Texas visited Lubbock a little less than two weeks ago when the Red Raiders administered a 68-59 triumph as 3½-point home chalk. It was knotted 33-apiece at intermission before Texas Tech began the second half on a 19-6 run to take charge. Balanced scoring was behind the dubya as Mac McClung led five Red Raiders in double figures with 16, and the win snapped a 3-game losing streak for Chris Beard’s bunch.

They were in Austin in early-January when online bookmakers closed the Longhorns as 1-point favorites, and McClung was at it again with a game-winning jumper in the closing seconds for a 79-77 Red Raiders victory. Texas blew a 12-point lead in the first half and canned 13 of its 25 shots behind the arc, but turned it over 15 times and missed 13 free throws. The Longhorns have an 87-63 advantage in the rivalry, but Texas Tech has won seven of the last eight meetings.

 

Tech Just 1-4 ATS in Last 5 Neutral Site Games

In closing a pedestrian 3-3 over the final two weeks, Texas Tech succumbed all three times away from home. The first two of those defeats came at Kansas and Oklahoma State, trailing the Jayhawks the entire time in a 67-61 loss and blowing an 11-point lead in the second half before falling to the Cowboys in overtime. They lost the rebounding battle in each contest, and failed to cover the NCAAB lines either time.

Last Sunday’s game in Waco saw Texas Tech come out flat against Baylor, trailing 10-0 before fighting back. The Red Raiders clawed back in it to trail by just 2 at the break, but then suffered another long scoring drought in the second half when the Bears pulled away. Baylor dominated the glass and was zoned in from 3-point range, sinking 15-of-24 (62.5%).

 

‘Horns 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS This Season on Neutral Courts

Shaka Smart’s squad has been on the road since the end of February, closing with four successive games away from home. The first of those was the loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, but the Longhorns shook that off nicely with follow-up wins at Iowa State, Oklahoma and TCU. Sharpshooting was the key to the three covers, the team combining to hit better than 51% (82-160) in the winning efforts

Texas also clamped down defensively in the final four games, holding opponents to under 43% from the field (94-222), and forcing 53 turnovers in the three wins. Another big improvement was at the free throw line where the Longhorns struggled until the final week. They went into the final three games hitting less than 70%, but converted 34-of-41 (83%) in beating the Cyclones, Sooners and Horned Frogs.

This is the sixth time the Longhorns and Red Raiders have met in the Big 12 Tournament, with Texas winning three of the previous five. Texas Tech won the last collision in the conference tourney, 73-69, having to hold off a late challenge by the Longhorns who grabbed the cover. I like Texas to avoid falling a third time to the Red Raiders this season, and will go with the Longhorns with my NCAAB pick.

Free NCAAB Pick: Texas +1½ (-110) at FanDuel